Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem introduces groundbreaking pastoral care training program in Israel

Thursday, June 1, 2006

The Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling at the Jerusalem campus of HUC-JIR announces the outcome of a two-year process which has culminated in a two-week intensive collaboration with some of its stateside partners, Dr. William Cutter, Director, and Michele Prince, Associate Director, of the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health at HUC-JIR/LA, and Nancy Wiener, Director of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Care at HUC-JIR/NY. In the fall of 2006, the Jerusalem Blaustein Center will introduce a groundbreaking pastoral care training program involving Jewish text study, practical counseling skills, fieldwork and supervision. 

The exploration of contemporary pastoral care in Israel began only two years ago with a mission led by Cutter, Wiener, Simkha Weintraub, and Susie Kessler of the National Center for Jewish Healing, NY. In June 2004, under the auspices of the Kalsman Institute, HUC-JIR hosted the first convocation exploring pastoral opportunities in Israel. Since then, the HUC-JIR Jerusalem administration, led by Naamah Kelman, Director of the Year-in-Israel Program and Educational Initiatives, and Yehoyada Amir, Dean of the Israeli Rabbinical program, reinforced their impression that it is time to create and offer a serious training program developed in and for Israel. They learned with and from their stateside colleagues who work in the area of pastoral care: Cutter, Wiener, Prince, and Rabbi Ruth Alpers of HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, the staff of the Union for Reform Judaism and its director of the Department of Jewish Family Concerns, Rabbi Richard Address, as well as other stateside agencies and organizations with experience in providing pastoral care. They have also been exploring the profound and various needs within Israeli society that pastoral care can address. 

To date, the Blaustein Center has completed two initiatives. In the summer of 2005, the first Israeli student from HUC-JIR went to the U.S. to train in the Clinical Pastoral Education program at Bellevue Hospital, NY. The student, Janine Vosberg, now continues her pastoral work at Tel HaShomer Hospital. During the academic year 2005-2006, the Blaustein Center Jerusalem funded a think tank, known as Mezorim, to work toward establishing and defining Israeli pastoral training. The think tank was led by Ruchama Weiss and Rachel Ettun. Twenty-one Mezorim fellows (rabbis, rabbinical students, mental health professionals, community workers and healthcare providers) worked as a group at weekly meetings to explore the use of Jewish textual sources, ritual, prayer, life changing events, and transitions to begin to define what the nature of pastoral care and pastoral care training might become in Israel. 

In the coming year Weiss and Ettun will continue to develop and teach in the training program, building on the work of the Mezorim think tank. Some of the participants' clinical placements will be coordinated by Naama Dafni of the Israel Religious Action Center, with an emphasis on community-based pastoral work. 

These initiatives have been made possible through the generosity of Betty and Arthur Roswell of the Blaustein Foundation, Baltimore, MD, as well as Nancy Berman and Alan Bloch of Los Angeles, representing the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, Herbert and Jean Mayer of Los Angeles, Mark and Peachy Levy of Los Angeles, and Janet Pauli of Bainbridge Island, Washington, who have provided special grants for specific project initiatives. 

For more information about the Blaustein Center, please visit www.huc.edu/support/AnnualReports/04-05/CompassionCatalyst.pdf (PDF) 


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu